“I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs.” (Amos 7:14)
No prophet, no servant of God in any capacity, appoints himself. God does not collect resumes and choose the best candidate for a job based on prior experience. God chooses the weak, the feeble, the inexperienced, the humble.
- “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
When we feel insufficient, insignificant, unworthy, and unable, we are in exactly the state of mind that God prefers. It’s not a formula for guaranteeing a certain ministry, but it is an indication of a heart that is ready to be used by God.
- Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6).
Competence, sufficiency, adequacy–qualification for ministry is only through the Lord. Rejoice in Him, in His divine choice in you, who are completely unworthy, yet found to be useful to the master.
“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite'”
A contrite and lowly spirit
A common misconception about God is that our feelings directly correlate to the strength of our relationship or standing with Him. Fortunately, our feelings really do not affect His love for us nor do they change our place in His heart.
In fact, our feelings may completely deceive us into thinking the exact opposite of God’s true position. It is not when we are feeling a spiritual high, but when we are the lowest, the most contrite, in the most turmoil, the most disquieted that God confirms His unshakable presence. I don’t mean to say His proximity to us ever really changes—but our feelings do. And we can be confident even when we walk in the valley of the shadow of death, He is with us all the more.
- Psalms 51:17; The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise
- Isaiah 66:1-2; Thus says the LORD: ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
To revive the heart
Though contrition confirms God’s presence, it never comes to the Christian without the reciprocation of God’s comfort. His company is not for the sake of rubbing our nose in the guilt, but for strengthening our feeble knees, lifting us up from the pit, helping us regain our footing, reviving our heart.
- Psalms 147:3; He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
- Psalms 30:2-3; O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.
When you find yourself wrestling with guilt, feeling far away from God, know that He is near. He is with you to help you, to comfort you, and revive you. Call on him.
Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great, for it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.
Do not put yourself forward
It is better to be given the righteousness of Christ than to try to earn your own. It is better to approach the Father on the basis of the work of his Son than on the basis of the works of your flesh. It is better to humble yourself to receive His forgiveness than to exalt yourself before Him as if you don’t need it.
- Luke 18:10-14; “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The Pharisee put himself forward in the presence of the King. The tax collector humbled himself instead. The latter was justified, the first condemned.
Or stand in the place of the great
When we humble ourselves before God, He lifts us up.
- 1 Peter 5:6-7; Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
It is better to be told, “Come up here”
When we recognize that we are not fit for heaven, He qualifies us.
- Colossians 1:11-12; May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
It is when we acknowledge our complete dependence on Him and our own inability to attain to His righteous standards that He says, “Come up here”.
- Philippians 3:4-9; Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.